The purpose of this special issue is to analyse the negotiation of power transition in the international system today. This introductory article provides the theoretical frame that guided all the contributors, and serves as the collective starting point for this project. The framework focuses on three sets of issues. First, it highlights the importance of studying the relations between the key actors, rather than focusing solely on the perspective of any one group of players. It identifies five sets of key actors: the rising powers, the established powers, small and marginalized states, private actors (that attempt to harness the ongoing changes to their advantage and are in turn used by various state actors), and, finally, international organizations and other mechanisms of global governance (as loci, objects and also facilitators of international bargaining). Second, the article facilitates an analysis of the relations between these actors; it offers the lens of negotiation analysis that focuses specifically on the variables of negotiation strategy, coalitions and framing. Third, the article suggests potential implications of this collective study. These include new insights into the motivations of the key players, their ability and willingness to assume the responsibilities of international leadership, and how their visions of global order conflict with or reinforce each other. The latter part of the article offers a summary of the findings, suggests how the individual contributions add up and presents some policy recommendations resulting from the analysis.